debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!


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Credit or Cash? Pick Your Poison

credit-or-cashI’ve been thinking about how I spend and pay for my purchases recently.  Ignoring out past financial history, today, I don’t have a problem with credit cards.  We pay ours off monthly and can always be sure this will happen because:

  1. We budget and track our spending
  2. We set up the payment for the due date as soon as the bill is sent electronically
  3. We monitor our cash flow, so I ensure I will have the funds in our account when the payment is made.  I will not go into overdraft, nor will I go below my $2K threshold I must maintain to avoid $9.95 of bank fees.
  4. If, for some reason, our spending is more than usual due to an unplanned emergency spend (examples: broken appliance (we always fix first if possible), car repair), I will transfer money from our Emergency fund/Property Tax account which is sitting at $9K currently with plans to grow to $15K.

I like to use our credit cards due to the cash back we carry on both cards.  One is Visa and one is AMEX (for Costco, though this is now changing and we will have to pick a new Costco card by the end of the year – either Mastercard or Personal Capital).  Currently I have cash rewards accrued on our Visa that will be paid in November as follows:

4.00% cash back – gas & groceries $170.26
2.00% cash back – recurring bills & pharmacy $60.79
1.00% cash back – everything else $161.34
Total cash back reward earned to date $392.39

This is based on stuff I need! I’m getting more than $400 because I lived my life!  Granted, the card carries an annual fee of $99 + $30 for a second card, but we are still ahead more than $265 right now and probably $300 by November.

Some PF reads lately have acknowledged that credit cards have been a problem for them in the past, they’ve tried them again, and still they remain a problem so they have sworn off them.   Travis @ Enemy of Debt says Credit Cards Are Officially NOT For Me and I totally respect that.  If you’re struggling with what to do in this regard, I really recommend you read his views. There’s no right or wrong answer, but there’s a right or wrong answer for you.  [Tweet “There’s no right or wrong answer, but there’s a right or wrong answer for you. #creditcards “]

Brian @ Debt Discipline has just paid off his 109K of debt and blames their families credit card usage for putting them in that position.  Well it actually is due to overspending, but in truth, I agree with Brian.  If credit was not so easy to obtain, families wouldn’t find themselves leveraging the convenience for ‘stuff’ they deem as important or necessary.  They want to get some savings behind them for a few months before they decide if they will try to use credit cards again.  In his words “A credit card is a tool for a consumer, just like a hammer is for a carpenter, when used wisely can be very effective, when used unwisely can cause major damage.”

I was reading on Myles Money the warnings about credit cards to teenagers and students in his post Credit Virgins.  It’s definitely a slippery slope and fair warning needs to be given to those that haven’t been taught to pay them off monthly.  This is something I learned from my parents, never to carry a balance.  I was actually surprised to learn that some people thought it was the only way to build up a credit rating, to keep a balance on your credit card.  There’s a lot of misinformation out there.

So while I know the dos and don’ts of responsible credit use, it’s really spending that I have always had the problem with.  So I’ve been thinking about if using cash would  help me to spend less rather than using credit?  For me, I don’t think it makes any difference.

I realize that credit or cash (or debit)  has no bearing on how much I spend.   Having cash in my hand or wallet and handing it over, does not make me think twice about buying something anymore than handing my credit card over.  It’s like cash is just paper and it has no more relevance to me than that piece of plastic. They are both important, but one is not more important than the other.  I would reluctantly hand either over if I didn’t think what I was buying was (a) necessary (b) reasonably priced (c) in line with our spending goals.    So this reinforces my strategy to use credit wisely.  Then, I can use the once a year* cash back to pay for more of what is necessary, reasonably priced and in line with our spending goals.

What side of the coin are you on – credit or cash/debit?  If you use credit card rewards, what is your preference for type or rewards?  Does paying with cash or debit help you to spend less than with credit?

*Note:  Some cash back cards pay out more frequently.

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #13 and

brokeGIRLrich


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Debt Do Run Run

The above was from 1963, I was four years old and The Irishman was eleven.  We just celebrated his 62nd on 9/11 this week.  Yes, fate has linked his birthday to that tragic day never to be forgotten.

So excited about our debt repayment process, I alluded that August was looking good and I’ve had a sneak peak at September and so far so good!  Our debt dropped $6.4K in August (and $3.6K so far in September – not shown).  I’m just shy of my timeline – I should be at 40% paid off towards our debt repayment date of May 18, 2018 but I’m at 39.3%.  I’m hoping I may be ahead of schedule for my September update.  We’ll see.

debt-update

click to enlarge

Buoyed with this consistent and solid performance, I’ve added a new debt repayment date counter in my sidebar.  It says I am three years to debt repayment, but it’s actually 3 years 8 months.  My stretch target is 3 years 3 months.  I did some calculations yesterday and a got a glimpse that maybe it was down to 3 years 5 months but immediately figured I made a mistake.  I’ll leave a little more time pass and recalculate again.  I don’t want to jinx us, and we still have to get through that dreaded winter where income may fall short again.

This time of year is generally better for us cash flow wise.  The additional payroll deductions that hit in the first part of the year are long gone.  To prepare for winter/spring lower income, I’m boosting up my e-fund/property taxes fund to $15K.  I’m currently at almost $9K.
debt-emergency-fund
Now for some exciting news!

Frugal FinCon Fiesta Party

debt-frugal-fincon-fiesta
So while I’m running away all my debt, and don’t make enough on my blog to cover my costs plus many other good reasons (check it out if you want a laugh), I’ve conspired with some of my fellow bloggers to do something fun while the rest of you are lollygagging* away in New Orleans.  Before I tell you what’s in it for the rest of us, let me tell you a bit more about FINCON.

  • It’s a conference for financial media – bloggers, journalists and freelance writers, financial advisors and coaches, podcasters and brand marketing experts.
  • There are workshops and speakers on beginner, intermediate and advanced topics to help communicators write better content, broadcast their message to larger audiences, learn to work with new media platforms.
  • It runs from Thu Sep 18 – Sat Sep 20 this year, 2014.
  • There’s a $99 virtual pass where you get lifetime access to all the keynotes and breakout sessions including videos, slides and MP3’s.
  • It costs $499 for the conference fee.  There were other passes available for advanced sessions etc. but they are now sold out.  Hot stuff!
  • You can’t bring your spouse into the sessions / parties unless they are a registered attendee (Guess they’re taking a nap!)
  • There are FinCon mobile apps at the iPhone store or the Google Play Store (Android).
  • The tweet tag is #FinCon14.
  • For more information visit the FinConExpo.com

*I needed to check the meaning of lollygag to make sure I was using it in the right context.

lollygag

verb

    1. To idle about; goof off: He has the summer free for play, swimming, berry picking, and general lallygagging/ when my nephew and his companion lollygagged back to my house (1862+)
    2. To kiss and caress; dally; make out, neck, trade spit (1868+)

I think maybe I am, he he, but no worries.  But I just wanna say that if there is any of item #2 above going on, can you at least wait for next year when I can go?

Okay, on to the details about the Frugal FinCon Fiesta Party.

  • It will run Sep 18 – 20 to coincide with FINCON and allow people time to visit other blogs (after all, most of us are working during the day, or taking a nap ;-) )
  • It will be an open linky party using the inlinkz tool.  You do not have to get an account. I have provided the code to insert into your blog post.**  This will display links with pictures to all of the other partyers on your post.  Here is an example from #FinSavSat.  If you do not have a self-hosted blog but use WordPress.com, it will show up as little frog like in this post (from when I used to be on WordPress.com) but will take you to the linked blogs.***
  • The purpose is to entertain questions from your readers like J. Money did in Ask J. Money Anything Day and Crystal did in Ask Crystal Anything Days.  Answer the questions in the blog post (like live blogging over a 3 day period, as time permits, of course).  Indicate in the comments when the question has been answered in the post.  If you choose to get the party started by posting some teaser questions and answers about random facts about yourself, then by all means go ahead.  This can be a great way to spawn future blog posts, if the answer is quite complex.
  • I also would like you to encourage non-blogger readers to say ‘hi’, even if they don’t ask a question at this party.
  • Let’s do some banter in the comments as well, not the usual commenter comments and blogger responds.  Let’s mix it up and comment to other’s comments for some $hits and giggles.
  • It will be super hot if you put a picture in the header of your post which you can select for the inlinkz. (or it will give you the option to choose other photos on your blog).  There are tons of great shots if you search on “Fiesta” in MorgueFile.com to give your post some pizazz!
  • I reserve the right to take down any spammy links or otherwise party-poopers who are not participating in the party with the spirit in which it was intended.
  • TWEET #FrugalFINCONFiesta and HAVE FUN!

** Write your introduction to your post and then click on this link to get the code to be inserted in the text (html view) at the end of your party post.  get the InLinkz code Note:  You will not see it in preview mode.  It needs to be posted live to show up.  If you prefer to test, edit an old post.

Link your own post up to the party by clicking on the little blue box that says “Add your link” at the bottom.

*** Special instructions on how to set this up on WordPress.com is linked here from inlinkz. (non self-hosted blogs)

So what do you have to say about the ‘hotness’ of my debt repayment?  Are you in for the Frugal FinCon Fiesta (Hotness) Party?  Any non-bloggers wanna give me a wink?  ;-)
#FrugalFinConFiesta

This post is part of Friday Jet Fuel #10 and

brokeGIRLrich


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Cutting Cable – Will it Payoff?

cutting-cable

Big A$$ ugly Antenna on our Roof

We’ve cut our cable and I couldn’t be happier.  I know I’ve alluded to our plans previously more than once and so some of you regular readers probably said “Enough Debs, when’s it going to happen?”

It took a little longer than I wanted because we were researching antenna’s and finally bought ours about a month ago.  Then we found out the cable company required a one month notice to cancel our service.  Grrrr  …. but still happy.

We paid the following for the equipment totaling $235.37 to replace the cable:

Channel Master Antenna  $177.39 ([$134.99 + $21.99 chimney mounting bracket] x 1.13% for Sales Taxes)
Strapping $18.49
Grounding Cable $39.49

So our payback will be in 2.8 months, assuming The Irishman works for free.  Not bad…. actually pretty good.

The service stopped last week and our last bill of $83.56 was received last week.  Score!

When we first hooked it up we only got 12 channels, 8 English and 4 French.

Then a few days later, after some research online about the location of the transmission towers, The Irishman went back up on the roof and re-pointed the antenna. Now we get 18 channels – 12 English, 4 French and 2 Multi language (English/Cantonese/Indian /Punjabi etc.)  That’s plenty, although the 3 PBS Channels are inconsistent and have poor signal quality.  Here are the stations that we get.

TV Channels

Channel
Station
Network
Language
Type
Comment
4-1
CBOTCBCEnglishStandard DefinitionDragons Den channel!
6-1GlobalGlobalEnglishHigh DefinitionBorder Security channel
6-2GlobalGlobalEnglishStandard DefinitionTwo Global channels but not sure why
9-1CBOFTCBCFrenchStandard Definition20/20 channel
11-1CHCHEnglishHigh Definition
13-1CJOHCTVEnglishStandard DefinitionBig Bang Theory channel
14-1OMNIOMNIMulti-languageStandard Definitionsome cantonese, punjabi programs
18-1WNPIPBSEnglishStandard Definitiondoesn't come through consistently
18-2WNPICreateEnglishStandard Definitiondoesn't come through consistently
18-3WNPIPBS WorldEnglishStandard Definitiondoesn't come through consistently
24-1TVOTVOEnglishStandard Definitiongreat shows on here I did not know about this channel b4
30-1CIVOFrenchHigh Definition
34-1CFGSFrenchHigh Definition
40-1CHOTDirect TVFrenchHigh Definition
42-1CTSEnglishHigh Definition
43-1CHROCTV2EnglishStandard DefinitionShark Tank channel
60-1OMNIMulti-languageStandard DefinitionDavid Letterman on this channel
65-1CityEnglishStandard Definition

So as far as selection goes, so far so good.  OK I do miss SLICE with shows like THE LITTLE COUPLE but I don’t miss them enough to pay $83.56/month.  The thing we do miss is have the guide displayed on the TV, so you can see what is on now and what is coming up later in the evening.  I found a site called tvpassport.com where you can personalize the channels that you get and see the schedule.

Personalized TV Guide

So it’s not ideal because you can’t see it on your screen, but I’ve got it saved on my tablet now so that’ll work.  So, in the end, so far so good as far as cutting cable goes, then I awoke this morning to hear on the news the following:

The CRTC, which is Canada’s broadcast regulator, is proposing a pick and pay structure for cable TV. It would allow Canadians to choose individual channels on top of the basic service. The price of which would be capped at $20-$30 per month. Service providers would be required to offer build-your-own channel packages, but could still offer pre-assembled packages. A controversial proposal would allow local TV stations to shut down their transmitters, a move that would not sit well with consumers who prefer to get their TV programming free over the year via antennae.

Oh.my.dog if they do that I will be so pi$$ed.

cutting-cable-digital-antenna

Home Hardware: UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna Channel Master 4228HD

debt debs thanks…

The following sites Young Adult Money and Money Propeller and Frankly Frugal Finance for featuring my posts in their weekly roundups!

Shout out to Jeremy Biberdorf who is looking to reach 400 blogs listed this year in the Modest Money Top Finance Blogs.  If you want your blog included, there is a button on the top right corner of the list where you can submit your blog.  It’s kind of fun to see the result of your efforts if you don’t get too worked about your rank.  So if you’re not listed, what are you waiting for?

One more week until the end of summer as we know it!  Enjoy all!

This post is part of

brokeGIRLrich
The-Power-of-Now


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Monkey Butt: The Power of Now

Irish Rose-the-power-of-nowIt’s summer time, the time when things usually slow down.  The sense of urgency lessens and you can literally stop to smell the roses once in a while.

Whereas last summer I was chilling by the lake many weekends, this year, for various reasons, we have not been able to make the weekly trip as often as we would like.  This has definitely contributed to my lack of feeling rested.  Work has been quite busy and this new found blogging hobby is consuming all of my other time, with some exceptions.  Excuse me while I point out my #1 priority.

The Power of Now

I hadn’t seen him since Sunday and felt a strong need to whip over and see him for his bath and bedtime routine last night.  Poor little guy has been sick this week with roseola but has started feeling better.

So I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, trying to juggle so many balls in the air, but also maybe a little tired last night.  I knew today would be a killer day, as I was facing a deadline for work and waiting on some information before I could complete a bunch of work that likely would not be smooth sailing.   I wanted to draft a post last night, knowing that my work may take me into the evening on Friday with Murphy’s assistance.   But, I was so tired and my brain was fried, that I just couldn’t face some of the topics that were floating around in my head but not grabbing me outright and compelling me to write.  Is this my first case of writer’s block?  Oh my!

Anyways, at the beginning of the week I was caught up on blog reading, but knew I was fast falling behind again.  This didn’t please me, so I decided to turn my attention towards this, because my post for today obviously wasn’t going to write itself!

The first blog that came up on my reader was the one I was meant to read right at that moment.   In my busyness, I have fallen away from something I strove to practice since last summer.  Frequent readers may remember that I have referenced the concepts of “The Power of Now” a number of times.  This time last year, I was enjoying reading and applying it to my everyday life.  Today, I’ve got the book still perched on my bathtub ledge, I think about it often, but am I applying it?

The-Power-of-NowIn his post, John brought me back to the splendor of applying the concepts of living in the moment.  When I take sudden road trips, thankfully not too far, to go see my little monkey butt, I feel like I am getting there.

But that is not enough.

Living too much in past or in the future is not good.  And as much as I strive to not do this, I still am.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t lament about the good old days.  I do feel the best is yet to come… or… ahem… is now.

To be honest, unless I’m recounting a funny story, memories can be still a bit painful – missing my Aunt, my Mum, my dog.  But I don’t want to go there.

I prefer to live in the moment but yet I do live a bit in the future.  Life is not perfect, because I cannot do exactly everything I want to do.  That is why I sometimes live in the future.  What if I get to the future and it is not as I expected?

There’s a high probability this could happen.  Therefore I am wrong to put all my eggs in that basket, all my money on Monkey Butt  for the win, all my desires on hold today because I must sacrifice for a better tomorrow?

Sometimes, I feel I’m continuously playing catchup, in a world that won’t stop.

I am swimming across the English channel or Lake Ontario.  It’s choppy and not fun, but I’m determined to get there.

I know I don’t want to sacrifice my goals for some fleeting pleasures, and yet must I sacrifice my present joy for something that may not materialize exactly as I imagine?

The answer is no.

I can have it all.

I can experience joy today, as much as I want and not turn my back on future goals.

I can execute on my plans, but not let it seem like drudgery.

I can find balance, in a world of demands and opportunities.

As long as I allow myself to take those opportunities and even seek them out.  I deserve them.

I deserve to achieve my goals as well, so I keep my eyes on the prize.

I live each moment and say, “How am I feeling now?”

Is this bringing me pure joy?  Keep doing it.

Is this in line with where I want to go?  Keep reaching for it.

Is this too much of one and not enough of the other?  Stop.  Rebalance.  Then get back on that horse called Monkey Butt, as soon as I am ready.

P.S.  I really recommend you read John’s post, Be observant, it will change your attitude, if you haven’t already.  BTW, after reading it, I shut down the laptop and went to bed.  I managed to get my work completed by 5  p.m. today (that never happens!)  And now, I  have the pleasure of writing this post, refreshed, relaxed and ready to start the weekend.  How’s that for living in the moment?
 

I’ve submitted this post as part of

A Disease Called Debt
and you can too!


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Debt Update and MVP Blog Award

I’m a week late in giving my monthly debt progression update.  Something else was going on last Saturday.  Oh yeah, I was finalizing my migration to self-hosted wordpress and doing a live blog.   Such is life.

I was also planning on getting this post done last night, so I could get on with a bunch of chores I need to do around here today.  But alas, I fell into bed at around 9 p.m., unable to keep my eyes open.   There was not even a drop of wine consumed last night, so I can’t blame that and I can assure you that there was none consumed in the making of this post – maybe a cup of java (or three), but I mean, what are lazy Saturday mornings for?

Debt Decrease

I’m a little disappointed in my debt decrease from last month.  Not that we didn’t pay our debt as planned, but it was because our credit card took a jump due to car repairs.  Anyone else out there hate those blasted car repairs?

debt-impacted-by-car-repairsI mean we budget them and all, but it’s hard to forecast (for me), the timing.  In addition, I think we budget too low an amount because it always seems to come in higher.   Like so far this year we’ve spent $1,742 on car repairs for two vehicles, but I think most of it was on the truck and I have budgeted only $120 / month for vehicle maintenance.  Actually, I just checked and I had one transaction misclassified in MINT for a oil change on my car for $71.30 and the picture at the left was taken before I fixed it.  This month we spent $1,150.03 for front and rear brakes on the truck.  {big} ugh

debt-paydown-debtdebs Ya, so like we’re $1,000 in the hole and that translates directly into our debt numbers I’m going to show you next.

I only started this graph last month so the actuals and forecast are tracking exactly from Dec to Jun.  It’s hard to tell, but there is a slight difference between the forecasted debt and the actual debt.  That is why I added the data values onto the graph.

Look for more variability going forward (or not!) and if there is some I’d prefer it to be on the upside instead of the downside as shown, thank you very much!

You see, we should always be tracking to our debt repayment or better unless (a) The Irishman’s income is way lower than our minimum target or (b) we have unforeseen expenses like car repairs > budgeted.  If his income is better, then hopefully we can apply even more to debt repayment.  At least that’s the current philosophy.  OK, my philosophy.  OK, now don’t get all philosophical on me now.

Detailed Debt Figures

Ahem… on to the detailed figures.  Our debt decrease was only $3,200 since last month which is better than our abysmal Jan and Feb, but not as good as last three months.  If I add back the extra $1K+ for car repairs, we’re still only at $4,350, which annualized would be $52K, and short of our annual goal of $60K, which we have managed to achieve the first two years.  Year to date, The Irishman’s income is only $1,100 lower than last year, so I’m not quite sure what the explanation is for the lower debt repayment and it’s making me a little nervous.  Anyhoo, I’ll need to stew about  look into this a bit more.

I know these debt repayments are large compared to what some of you reading this may pay in a month, but I just want to say it’s all relative.  Anyone want to trade an opening debt position of $394K with me?  Anyone?  I don’t know why I feel the need to justify this every time I put these figures out here.  Clearly I need help, or more money, or both.

Debt-Debs-Debt- Details

Click to enlarge

I’ve added a little metric which I think is quite titillating (see how sad my life has become?), which is the % decrease in debt from our opening position in March 2012 as compared to the % of time that has passed until our debt freedom date – May 18, 2018.  May 2018 is what my avalanche/snowball debt calculators are telling me, and I revise these every few months to see if we are on track.  So far so good (crossing fingers and toes).  So I picked May 18 since it is year 2018 as an arbitrary debt freedom date.  Time (and money!) will tell if we can achieve this date or not.  To be perfectly candid, my stretch target is Dec 2017, but at this juncture that is looking really stretched!  So you can see that we are 36.5% paid off but we should be at 37%.  Missed it by that much!  Quoting Don Adams from GET SMART!    Time for a video.

Who reading is old enough to remember Get Smart? I couldn’t find one with him quoting that line, but the cone of silence has always been a favourite and is used in my everyday dialogue quite often so I thought it appropriate.

Anyways, compared to earlier months this year, we are doing pretty good for that metric. Last month was the best where we were only off by 0.4%.

Emergency Fund

Emergency-fundNeedless to say, I have not been able to put any additional towards our Emergency / Tax fund since last month.  That’s the other bad news.  However, on the positive side, I was able to pay our second installment of property taxes of $2,812.42 last month without taking anything out of this fund which is reserved for emergencies and property taxes.  I normally try to contribute $500/month to it.   So technically I’m $2,300 ahead in trying to get my E-fund up to a new target recently set due to the slow earnings months experienced in Q1.

Is there any metric or piece of info that I’m not telling showing that you want to know to complete the picture?

CNA Finance MVP Award

Debt Debs - Personal Finance MVP!
Before I go and get on with my chores, I must tell you that I’m tickled pick to be awarded the CNA Finance MVP of the Week award  by votes from readers over at CNA Finance Blog.  Josh has a series where he posts every Friday called “Why Bloggers Fail” and he explores different topics on this subject each week.  Based on feedback received, he awards a blog each week and yours truly was selected this week.  I am really humbled by all the nice things he had to say but especially thrilled that he captured the essence of what I do here perfectly.  I guess my communication skills aren’t so bad after all!  heh heh.  I really appreciate all the readers who voted for me as well.  Truly.

Thanks to the following blogs:

Carnival of Financial Camaraderie over at Counting My Pennies for  featuring one of my posts:  Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid.

Young Adult Money for Weekly Hits Roundup and Personal Finance Tips – Moving Blog from WordPress.com to Self-Hosted WordPress.org

Have an amazing weekend folks.  That’s a wrap.  debt debs, over and out.

My Pennies, My Thoughts
This post is part of Financially Savvy Saturdays
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Moving Blog from WordPress.com to Self-Hosted WordPress.org

self-hosted-wordpressWell, in the grand scheme of things, moving my blog to self-hosted did not go too bad.

What I’d like to do is share with you my gotchas and lessons learned on what’s important.  Although I had done some investigation and reading before hand, there is a lot of information available but not one document that puts everything together in a linear but brief fashion.  I think this is important because some of my gotchas could have been avoided if I understood the end picture better.

Now I need to qualify that my gotchas actually had nothing to do with my hosting site.  My worst problems were caused by WordPress.com two-step authentication process and and issue I was having with accessing my blog’s gmail account.  I will go into these in more detail below, but as a result of these issues, I made decisions that I would later come to regret and if I knew the impact up front, I would have not done the actions I did.

So here’s a bunch of points I want to make which are following a sequential process and thought process about how I went about the migration.  I will summarize at the bottom the actual technical steps for easy reference, since some of the points below are not really actions but more decisions, I made.

Hosting Partner Choice

Big-ScootsI decided on BigScoots (non-affiliate link) after doing some research into the following hosting companies:  Blue Host, Host Gator, Dream Host, Liquid Web, Host Papa, Green Geeks, Go Daddy and Web Hosting Canada.  I wanted to get a Canadian firm, in all honesty, but I was unable to find one WordPress blogger who used a Canadian company host.  I also wanted inexpensive but not cheap.  Blogging takes enough time, without having it sucked away by technical issues and outages.

I also wanted a host company who was quite familiar with the WordPress application.  Upon a recommendation of another blogger, I decided on Big Scoots who are big but not too big and fairly inexpensive $24.95 USD for initial year.  Domain is additional (I think $10.95 USD), but my domain is paid up for another eight months, so even though it was tempting to sign with them now for convenience, my budget brain would not allow me to.  Hopefully I won’t regret this decision later when I need to renew my domain registration in early March.

Migration Support from Hosting Partner

self-hosted-wordpressA big shout out to Justin at Big Scoots who did some of the heavy lifting.  As soon as my account was opened he contacted me with a ticket, via email, offering support.  He was actually offering to do most of the migration, which I had not expected at all.   I specifically had decided not to pay WordPress.com $129 CAD to do it not only because of the cost but because I wanted to learn from the experience and so opted to do as much as I could on my own.  My feeling was that it would be helpful for me to support the blog if I did this work myself.

I opted to follow the steps in this article from WPBeginner How to Properly Move Your Blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org to conduct the migration.   (Note:  You will notice in this document that WordPress.org offers to do the migration for free but I think they work with Blue Host, though I’m not sure if they only exclusively with Blue Host.)

Minor Point #1

The cPanel is the control panel that gives you access to your files and all other programs that you can use to manage your site.  Think of it like the backbone or middleware and then WordPress is the application layer on top of this.  Of course, I had never seen a cPanel before, because in WordPress.com this is all behind the scenes, all I could see was the WordPress application layer.

One thing I noticed as soon as I started snooping around cPanel, was that my home directory was set up as Home Directory /home/debtdeb instead of debtdebs with an ‘s’.  I was concerned it may have later repercussions so pointed it out to Justin in the ticket.  He said it was automatically named and shouldn’t be an issue but would change it none-the-less, which he did so expediently.  I had a little trouble logging into the cPanel after that (said login was invalid), which I thought might be related.  After a refresh, I was able to login.

Gotcha #1

There is nothing in this article about how to put your site in maintenance mode.  Justin @ BigScoots wanted me to install a plug-in to accomplish this.  But, one of the main drivers for moving away from WordPress.com is that you cannot use plug-ins, so that option wouldn’t work.

Deborah,You will want to put the site into maintenance mode, you can use a plugin like:

self-hosted-wordpresshttps://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-maintenance-mode/

This way they will hit a splash page that says its under maintenance and will not allow them to post, etc.

Regards,

– Justin

I did some research in WordPress.com Forums and found a suggestion to make a custom home page temporarily which I did.  The steps on how to do this are here -> Front Page.  I grabbed an under construction picture and posted it on the landing page.

I think that worked pretty well except that after I had exported my blog, E.M. @ Journey to Saving managed to sneak a comment in on my old site that would forever be lost in cyberspace except that I have captured it here :-) :

E.M.-Journey-to-Saving

Minor Point #2

So anyways, I did manage to export my blog to .xml file and added the software through the cPanel option (BigScoots uses Softaculous -there is a link in the WP Beginner article linked above that gives more info on all the different Apps Installers used for WP). I also increased the import size levels temporarily to allow the blog import.  They are set at 2 MB, so usually you need to increase, although my blog at 4 months old with lots of pictures was only 3.7MB.  These were the instructions I got from Justin on how to do this:

You can increase the import size by doing the following inside cPanel:Click on “Select PHP version”
Select a version other than native, default is 5.3.
cPanel-increase-import-size-limitClick “Set as current”
Click “Show PHP Settings”
Click the gray setting next to the following options:
“post_max_size”
and
“upload_max_filesize”

You need to change both of these to increase the file size limit.

So for some reason when I went in the default was 5.4 not 5.3 (notice now it is showing 5.5).  I don’t know why these are or the importance.  I opted for staying with 5.4 which Justin said was fine  Notice instead of saying “Show PHP Settings” it says “Switch to PHP Settings” which I figured out.  I changed the two settings which were at 2MB to 16 MB each (not shown).

Gotcha #2

Security-lockOriginally, Justin wanted to get into my WordPress.com site but I had trouble in figuring out how to do this because I had 2-step authentication turned on which although for security reasons is probably quite good, it is a PITA to work under.  I especially had a lot of problems with it (see  Gotcha #7  for consequences below), and have since turned it off on my WordPress.com site due to these difficulties.

Basically, once you put your password in, it asks for an authentication code and there is a button that you can click which sends the code to your phone, which you then enter.  But for some reason, and I’m not the only one, because I saw some Forum posts on WordPress.com on this topic, it gets into a loop where it keeps asking for your password and then authentication code and goes no where.  Eventually it locks you out for 30 minutes.  I had that happen to me twice.

Gotcha #3

DNS-propagationI was keeping the same blog name (domain name still to be hosted by WordPress.com) and just changing hosts.  Therefore I needed to update the name servers in my WordPress.com account from the WP.com name servers to the ones provided by BigScoots.  It wasn’t clear to me at what step that change should be made.  I didn’t know if doing it too early would cause me to not be able to get into my old blog.

It only briefly touches on the topic near the end of the WP Beginner article above.  Justin said it didn’t matter if it was done before or after.  Sometimes it takes a little while (up to 48 hours) for the new DNS to replicate around the world, and this includes your own ability to access your new blog (Gotcha #5).  Therefore, from what I know now, I would recommend changing them sooner than later.    Justin gave me a link to an article explaining more on DNS: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/05/25/introduction-to-dns-explaining-the-dreaded-dns-delay/.

Whenever I tried to access my new blog using debtdebs.com/wp-admin, it would take me back to my old WordPress.com site and application.

Gotcha #4

So since, I could not get into my WordPress application software on my new site to do the import, Justin did it for me.  I was able to attach my exported .xml file to the ticket.  He also had to load my YOKO theme and I sent him a link on where he could obtain that.   He downloaded the .zip of the actual theme and extracted it into the themes folder on the server.

He said there were some failures which took him maybe 30 minutes to correct, but I can’t give you any more details than that.  In the end, he never needed to access my old WordPress.com site.

Gotcha #5

Even once he was done, I could not get into my WordPress.org software because of the name server DNS changes not fully replicated.  Justin suggested to force the DNS to change by flushing what is cached on your computer.

cachedIf you open up command prompt type the following:

ipconfig /flushdns

and hit enter

then type

ping debtdebs.com
and hit enter

You should see the new IP address replying back, being 123.456.78.999

This worked, but then stopped working because “Your ISP’s DNS servers are going back and forth, if you want to force the IP address you do so by forcing your computer to see the correct IP using your computers HOSTS file.”  Here’s the instructions, Justin gave me:

http://helpdeskgeek.com/windows-7/windows-7-hosts-file/

Once inside your hosts file, add this line to the bottom and save.

123.456.78.999 debtdebs.com www.debtdebs.com

This worked well.  I was able to get in to my WordPress application and see what needed to be fixed, which is really par for the course, but I will summarize them on Gotcha #6.

Gotcha #6

The following things needed to be added / changed once I got into my new WordPress application:

  • Blog picture in header
  • Some widgets were missing and needed to be re-added:  Social Media icons and Status Bars (I needed to go back into my old site to copy the code for the html widgets), Recent comments (I eventually removed becaused the version available doesn’t have pictures with it) , Top Posts and Pages, Disclaimer, Buttons (Top Blogs, Yakezie)
  • Twitter and Facebook plugins (These couldn’t be added until I installed JetPack – see Gotcha #7)
  • Time Zone in General Settings (I didn’t notice this until I got Akismet plugin working)

Gotcha #7

Remember when I said that I was having trouble getting into my old blog due to the two-step authentication process?  Well, when I went to get an Akismet API I couldn’t get into my old site.  I was anxious about leaving my new blog without spam filter on, so I created a new email address and registered for an Akismet API through that account and email ID.  It worked fine.

So since I had this new email, I also installed Jetpack referring to my new WordPress account and email which was a mistake.  When I went to execute one of my last steps to migrate my existing WordPress.com subscribers over to my new blog (see Gotcha #8), I found out that you need Jetpack to be registered with your old WordPress account to be able to do this.  I have a ticket into Jetpack to find out if I should deactivate and redo, or if they can change something for me.  I don’t want to screw anything up further, so I am proceeding cautiously.  I’ve also left a ticket with WordPress.com Forum and the WordPress.org Forum and at the Jetpack Support site (though theres no public forum of my request, I just received and email back stating my request, but no response as yet.

Auntie-SPAMIn addition, once I realized this, I also realized that I probably shouldn’t have done the same thing for my Akismet registration either.  I launched a ticket for Akismet and they have advised:

You can login to https://akismet.com/account with your old credentials and select a subscription there.  Once you’ve done that, click the ‘disconnect this account’ link on the Akismet settings page, then reconnect.

This has worked fine, and actually all my previous spam history is now merged with my new spam history, so we’ve got all the WHAM BAM thank you SPAM together, MAAM.  (Awww… that calls for a picture of Auntie SPAM again).

Gotcha #8

Followers-SubscribersHere are the relevant links for Transferring Follower and Subscribers which I haven’t been able to do yet until I hear back from Jetpack.

Subscription Migration Tool.  Technically, this may not be a gotcha, but it just feels like it is because I’m delayed.  Hopefully once I have JetPack sorted out it will go smoothly.

I have around 50 WordPress.com followers and would hate to lose them.  :cry:

I’ve already turned on most of Jetpack’s settings.  I’ve come to learn that Jetpack is the standard stuff that is in WordPress.com native.  The only settings I have not activated are:

  • Jetpack Comments
  • Jetpack Single Sign On
  • VideoPress

I have installed commentluv (so happy to have that feature) so I wasn’t sure if I would need the first two.  If you think I should enable, please leave a comment, luv ;-)  (they facilitate WordPress.com blogs and Twitter / Facebook commenters).

Gotcha #9

jugglerOh ya, the other thing that wasted my time was my gmail accounts.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the migration itself, but since it slowed me down, I’m calling it out.

So I have my main personal gmail account and two other personal gmail accounts that I use for playing lexulous, on-line forums etc.  Then I have my blog gmail address which is debtdotdebsatgmaildotcom.  So, you know in gmail how you can have them all kinda linked and switched from one to the other?  Ya, well I use that …. a lot.  So I mentioned in Gotcha #7 about creating a new gmail for my new blog.  Well I don’t know if 5 is too many or because I was working in just one browser, but everytime I tried to log into my old blog email it would open one of my personal gmail accounts.  I could not get into my old blog email and I needed to see if WordPress.com was sending me emails about my password recovery for my site etc.  It was so frustrating.  Eventually, I opened a chrome browser, so I had Firefox, Chrome and Internet explorer browsers open and trying to do all kinds of stuff with the three.  I felt like a juggler.

I don’t know about you but with Google+ now and all the gmails I just get lost some days.

Gotcha #10

But the pièce de résistance that I was able to fix on my own, was this little baby that I mentioned in my previous posting on Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure.   I was so freaked out about it because I thought I was not going to be able to get my beloved fraggle to show in my little browser tab.

How crazy is that, ay?  Well I was broken hearted when found out that the YOKO theme (which I love and am not nearly tired of yet since I’ve only been blogging four months) did not have a spot for me to load a favicon in the theme.

Thanks to this youtube video, How to Install a Favicon to Your Website, I was able to code the fix directly in css and I am such a SMARTY PANTS so PUMPED!
browser-tab-with-favicon

  1. Create a favicon.ico file here http://www.favicon.cc/
  2. Load favicon.ico file into my directory folder “images” at self-hosted site
  3. Insert this css code using editor in the header section under title part:

<link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”http://debtdebs.com/wp-admin/images/favicon.ico” type=”image/x-icon” />

replacing your site information and hierarchy (may be a little different), of course.

I’ve left a note on the Elmastudio Theme Forum (creators of YOKO).  Now isn’t YOKO such a great theme for this site because it’s so much like YOLO?  ;-)

The Recipe

So although it seems like a lot of points above, it really went well.   I just like to have an exact recipe with everything the right order and everything clearly named and easy to find.
many-tasks-of-blog-migration

  1. Procure a domain hosting service and verify you can access their site.
  2. Put your existing site on maintenance mode using tips in Gotcha #1.
  3. Turn off 2 step authentication in WordPress.com if you have it activated.  You will need you printed codes to do this. (Gotcha #2)
  4. Change your name servers in your old WordPress.com site (assuming you are keeping your domain with your old host). Store>My Domains> Edit Domains>Name Servers (Gotcha #3).
  5. Export your blog to .xml (Tools>Export).
  6. Log into your hosting platform and create the WordPress application from the cPanel.
  7. Access your new application via yourblogname/wp-admin.  If it is taking you to your old site, wait a while or follow steps in Gotcha #5
  8. Import your blog from the .xml file.  You probably have to install your theme as well in the WP-Content>Themes folder.
  9. Correct any errors/failures with the assistance of your hosting company. (Gotcha #4)
  10. Adjust widgets / settings. (Gotcha #6)
  11. Install plugins (e.g. Akismet, Jetpack, Commentluv) and activate settings on Jetpack features desired. (Gotcha #7)
  12. Migrate your WordPress.com subscribers.  (Ref Gotcha #8)
  13. Set your WordPress.com site to private and / or Redirect visitors to your new site by procuring Site Redirect ($13 Cdn)

I have not done Step 13 yet.   I haven’t figured out if I need to do it because my link addresses are the same since my blog name didn’t change.  Here’s what they say about it in the WordPress.com Store:

Do you want to move away from WordPress.com to your own self-hosted WordPress installation without losing SEO ranking and breaking links? Have you recently changed your blog address and need to move traffic to the new address? This upgrade redirects your wordpress.com blog to your new blog by performing permanent (301) redirects for all of your content.

If anyone can help a homegirl out and tell me if I should do this for a year I would greatly appreciate it.

Any tips and tricks I have forgotten?  Does this make you more confident to move your blog, or less confident?

like-postCREDITS – we’ve got credits!

Images courtesy of / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Stuart Miles / man carrying boxes, coloured blocks, jigsaw fan
cooldesign / men with boxes
David Castillo Dominici
/ construction
sheelamohan
/ time and lock
renjith krishnan / Make Money Online. Internet Cable With Dollars
rajcreationzs / computer networks
Grant Cochrane
/ cartoon dog juggler
Master isolated images / like

 

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sciatica-x-ray


35 Comments

B-A-C-K-S (Break50.com, Anti-spam, CNAFinance MVP, Kisses & Kudos, Self-hosted)

Hi folks

I had a good Canada Day weekend, after a rough start, which is why I’ve entitled this post BACKS!  The Irishman tried to change the front brakes on the truck himself.  We had paid $754.76 parts and labour, earlier in the week to have the rear brakes done.  He decided to do the front himself because they are less complicated and he figured he could save the labour charge.  Parts alone were $395.27!  Yikes!  It’s been an expensive week.

sciatica-x-ray-self-hostedAnyhoo, he struggled to get the rotor off because there was rust and corrosion and then couldn’t get the brakes on because they gave him the wrong brakes!!  They gave him rear brakes!   So he rushed to take them back and get the right parts before we needed to babysit and then he didn’t have the right receipt.  So he dropped me off at my grandson’s, so my daughter could leave to go to a wedding and ran back home to find the receipt and get back to the dealership before the parts department closed.

He ended up having to finish the job on Sunday morning and it was a lot of work.  Consequently he is complaining that his back is sore which isn’t good since he had back surgery 7 years ago.   This is his x-ray before his surgery where they put two titanium rods in his back.  I have another photo post surgery of the incision but it’s too gross to show you.

I told him to go to physiotherapy.  I hope he listens and I don’t have to nag him.  Every time he complains about it I’m going to hold up a sign with PHYSIO on it.

Short post (sure you say! ;-) ) today, with various updates on some topics.  So I’ll get started real quick, continuing with the BACK theme.

Break50B – Break50.com Interview

Speaking of brakes (breaks), I was very pleased to be interviewed at Sov’s site, Break50.com,  The Personal Debt Wrangler – an interview with Debt Debs.   Discussions of net worth and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (which I’m currently reading) over there.  Worth checking out as there’s information I have never yet disclosed on this blog.  A big thanks to Sov, for his hospitality.

Canada-anti-spam-legislation

flickr: janet galore

A – Anti-Spam Legislation

Canada launched new anti-spam legislation on Canada Day, July 1, 2014.  In order to comply, I believe I have to get express permission from people in Canada who subscribe to my blog via email.  I also need to remind them how to opt of receiving emails, at any time.  Since this is a fairly new blog, I don’t have  a lot of email subscribers, 9 to be exact (most subscribe via WordPress reader or blog reader tools (Bloglovin’ or feedly).  In addition, I don’t know if my email subscribers are Canadian or not.

But in order to be compliant, I did managed to send out an email using Google Forms to get their express permission to continue to receive my blog posts via email.  Google Forms was actually pretty easy to use, although I made a boo-boo with my first email out and forgot to ask the subscribers to identify themselves.  I was getting confirmations back that they still wanted to subscribe to my blog, but I had no way to know which of the 9 subscribers was responding.  So I sent out a second email.  Since then I have received responses back from 3 subscribers with their email (Thank you! :-D ) and another 4 affirmations but with no email indicated.  But I’m suspecting that the four are from the first mail out, so theoretically I have only received 3 out of 9 responses and I should be unsubscribing the other 6 from my blog (Boo Hoo! :-( )

I wanted to do a blog post about how to use Google Forms to do this.   I may still, or I may update this post afterwards, but basically, here is the content of my Google Form:

Anti-Spam Consent

I would like to send a very sincere thanks to all of you who have subscribed to my blog debtdebs.com.

Canada is launching a new anti-spam legislation on July 1, 2014 and to comply with this I would like to obtain consent from you individually by confirming that you agree to continue to receive messages from me whenever I post a new blog entry at debtdebs.com.

You may unsubscribe to receiving these messages at any time by selecting Unsubscribe at the bottom of any email you receive from debt debs or by contact me at debtdebs@gmail.com.

If I do not receive a response from you, I will remove you from the mailing list.

I’m looking forward to continued sharing of my personal finance related stories with you.

Thank you and best regards,
Debs

For more information about Canada’s anti-spam legislation visit.

http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home

* Required
Do you provide consent to continue receiving emails from debtdebs.com? *

By selecting

My email address is *

This is needed to match responses with responders

 

CNA-Finance-PF-MVP-Award-Vote-for-meC – CNA Finance Personal Finance MVP Award Nomination

As I mentioned last post, my blog has been nominated for the CNA Finance MVP Award.  I was quite tickled given the caliber of the other two nominees.  If you like what you are reading here, there is still time to vote until the end of the day Wednesday.  The votes will be counted Thursday morning.  You can vote by leaving a comment in the post or send an email to CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com!  Thank you so much for all those who have voted so far!  It’s a long shot for me, but I really appreciate the sentiment, very truly.  :-)

self-hostedK – Kisses & Kudos

Since I’ve been away and not near the internet for a few days, I have a lot of catching up to do.  I see many have re-tweeted my post from Saturday and left some nice comments.  Thank you very much!  I’ll be around visiting blogs for the rest of the week.

S- Self-hosting (Moving Blog from WordPress.com to Self-hosted)

I’ve decided to move my blog from the awesome WordPress.com hosted site to a self-hosted site and that will be happening this week (all things going well, crossing fingers and toes!).  There’s a few reasons behind this, most pressing reasons listed first:

  1. I’ve been asked to participate in an event that will utilize Rafflecopter, and this plug-in cannot be deployed on WordPress.com hosted blogs.
  2. I found out when co-hosting a FinSavSat blog hop in May, that I couldn’t display the other blog posts that were participating in the usual nice format that shows the post and associated picture.  Instead I had to have this dumb little frog’s head, that readers would need to click on to see all other linked posts.  Since I would like to co-host that blog hop again and maybe others, I need to be able to install plug ins on my site.  Full stop.
  3. Initially I did not want to pay anything for my blog, since I felt I was being hypocritical, since our large outstanding debt was the primary catalyst for starting.  I finally got fed up with the annoying WordPress word in the blog url (debtdebs.wordpress.com) and bought my domain name for $26 after I realized I wanted to continue to devote my time and grow my blog.  Now that I realize how much work is involved and still want to continue, I need to set myself up for potentially monetizing my blog down the road.  My initial intention was to grow my readership first, and then decide.  Now I realize that delaying the move will only result in more work down the road.  So that, in addition to the above two factors makes me realize that I should do this now and not delay.  If I had known this before, I probably would have started out as self-hosted.

Happy-4th-July
I must admit, I’m a little nervous.  I’m not technically inept, and I like troubleshooting, but I would rather that things go smoothly because who needs the hassle?  I would rather devote my time to writing and reading other blogs.

So despite my good intentions above, if things seem a little quiet here and from me for the next few days, then you will know why.

Wishing all U.S. based readers and bloggers and very fine Independence Day!  Happy 4th of July!

Be back later.  :cool:

B – Do you ever do your own brake jobs?
A – Any Canadian bloggers done anything similar for the Anti-Spam legislation?
C – Can you vote for me?
K – What are your plans for Independence Day?

S –  Share any words of advice for moving from WordPress.com to self hosted?


19 Comments

Canada Day – Be Mindful and Be Brave

Canada-Day-Long-Weekend-mindfulCanada Day isn’t until Tuesday July 1st, but basically this is the CANADA DAY long weekend, with many people extending their weekend if possible.

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends.

I am very fortunate to be able to go to my Dad’s cottage for the weekend, meet up with extended family and kick back and relax.

In the spirit of winding down and reflecting, I’m not going to inundate you with lots of frugal tips or financial updates, even though it is the end of the month.

In fact, what I was going to write about will just make this post entirely too long, and I want to vary it up a bit after Brian so aptly pointed out that I rock write a long post!

I’ll save that for another time and just share a few personal tidbits with you.

Be Mindful

Natalie @ Debt and the Girl wrote about The Dangers of Black and White Thinking which I found quite interesting because I’ve always been a black and white girl.  I always labeled every situation as either bad or good, without even realizing I’m doing it.  Shades of grey has never come naturally for me.  I don’t know why, and I’m incredibly interested in human psychology, so would love to understand it a bit more.  Some discussion in the comments about whether this way of thinking comes from life’s experiences or not.  I don’t know and I’ll probably never find out, but it is quite fascinating.

But what I want to say about that is, you can change the way you think by being mindful as Budget Bloggess discusses in Distracted from Spending: Summer Weekends.  I wouldn’t have really had believed before, but I’m halfway through my second reading of The Power of Now and now understand this phenomenon better and practice it in my everyday life.

It makes it easy to log-off from work at the end of the day, knowing that the pile of work will still be there tomorrow and all I can do is prioritize and continue doing my best.   It makes it easy to make a fast decision to stop working for a bit because my grandson has dropped in unexpectedly and I won’t trade those interactions for anything.  It makes it easy to not bear guilt about what I may not be able to do for a family member or friend but feel joy when I can.  Life can be short, so we have to approach it in an inspired and mindful YOLO fashion, but not a reckless and irresponsible way.

If you want more writings that touch on this topic, check out:

How Being Humble Helps Us to LIve a Happier Life from Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt

The Power of Mindfulness from Stefanie, Staff Writer @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

… and While Being Mindful … Be Brave

Yesterday I was babysitting my grandson for the evening while his folks attended a wedding rehearsal and dinner.  In the true spirit of mindfulness, I was savoring every moment.  We played on the floor with his toys, turned on Disney channel for a few minutes (don’t tell Mom), I fed him (or tried to feed him, he wasn’t hungry as he had a late lunch and was breastfed by his Mom just before she left), took him for his bath and brushed his teeth.  By that time my husband had arrived to lend a helping hand so we did jolly jumper time, then stories, some bottled breastmilk (which he drank half of surprisingly, we haven’t had much luck with that  before) and bed.  He ‘fake’ cried for a bit doing his usual rocking and banging his foot on the mattress (I was watching closely on the monitor) and eventually went off to do-do land.

I was in such a state of joy and yet it was typically a very sad day for me.   Nine years ago yesterday, my Mum passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, alone at home from heart failure.  My father found her, when he returned home from a day at the cottage with my husband and brothers-in-law.  He found her in her bed with her tea cup partially drunk and her crossword puzzle and pen still in her hand.   My parents had been at our house the evening prior and we had a wonderful impromptu dinner, my children were all in attendance (which in itself was unusual given the age they were and all their comings and going), one of my sisters/BIL and a niece and a nephew.  Another sister/BIL had spent a similarly meaningful evening with her the night before.   Looking back, those experiences seem like they were a foreshadowing of what was to come.

I found something really fascinating yesterday, while I was feeding my grandson.  He became mesmerized with my ring on my hand which is a diamond solitaire ring belonging to my Mum.  He was pushing it around my finger, over and over again for a very long time considering he is an eight month old.  It felt like Mum was there with us in the room, just the three of us.  I became even more mindful at that moment.  It was pure peace and happiness.

I can’t remember if this little episode happened before or after the ring pushing incident, but here he is, after spitting out most of what I put in his mouth, but entirely fascinated by his Nama singing Brave to him*.

*Click here to view directly on YouTube

A Few Callouts

I would like to thank MrCBB @ Canadian Budget Binder for linking to my recent Top Ten in his Friday post – Should The Brick honour this customers claim on her extended warranty? : PF Weekly Grab a brew #78

I am very humbled to be nominated by Josh Rodriguez for the CNA Finance Personal Finance MVP Award! over at CNA Finance.  I’m in very highly esteemed company with David Carlson from Young Adult Money and Laurie from The Frugal Farmer.  Big congratulations to Will Lipovsky at First Quarter Finance for winning the first award!!  You can vote by leaving a comment in the post or send an email to CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com!

We’re minding my grandson again tomorrow and then out of internet range for a few days.  Good weekend and good finances all!
Debt Debs out.

  • I have it on my tablet and play it for him, along with Happy and Under the Sea (The Little Mermaid).

P.S.  Man I still can’t write a short post!

brokeGIRLrich
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Click on the picture above and join in!
debtdebs-Fergus


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Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your Finances

Big big post for you here today folks.  It’s time for another Top Ten Reasons à la David Letterman style. This time I’ve brought my good blogger friends to back up my points.  You know, just so you don’t think I make this stuff up and all.

Last time I did the Top Ten I kinda screwed it up. I forget that Dave goes in reverse. What can I say? I was a Leno fan.

Speaking of the Tonight Show, who’s enjoying it with Fallon as the host? I love the opening music (don’t ask why, but if I turn the channel too late after watching the news and miss the opening music I’m bummed up.  Hey hey hey hey….Hey hey hey hey… Hey hey hey hey… hey hey hey hey)

It’s definitely different than Leno. I like the musical numbers he does.  Plus he does a good Vladimir Putin.  I miss headlines, and jaywalking though. Did anyone see it the other night when they had the zoo animals on?  No?  Okay well you’re in luck because I have it for you below.

At about 3 minutes in the trainer pretended the little albino alligator snapped at Jimmy and he ended up in the corner because he got so scared.   Then they brought the big mama albino alligator out and he looked like he was going to run out of the studio. Meanwhile his female guest, Rosario Dawson, was handling the little white baby like a pro.

You can view the video directly on YouTube by clicking here

Also see the follow-on video with Roxie the big big elephant here.  I’m a little reluctant to share these videos because I’m not a big fan of animals in captivity.  Share your thoughts in the comments, if you like.

Anyways, I digress, so back to the Top Ten.

Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your Finances

goats-kids#10.  Your kids – Read this heartfelt story from Vanessa of the Cash Cow Couple who wrote at The Heavy Purse

The Surprising Consequences of Keeping Your Kids in the Dark about Your Finances

Vanessa explains how important it is to explain any ways you are managing money in an open and practical manner, focusing on the positive with your children.  You do not want to create fear in your child which can develop into unhealthy money and spending habits that take years to overcome.  As a mother, I wonder if I’ve made these mistakes, even if meaning well.  All I can do is look forward and help educate other parents about this as well.

Top Ninth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

fast-food-not-frugal#9.  You may end up having to go on a cash diet – Grayson Bell at Frugal Rules is putting himself on one because he says he’s spending too much on fast food.

It is Time to go on a Cash Diet

There’s no shame if you have to go this route, it’s better than letting a problem perpetuate and maybe become an even harder habit to break.  I’ve decided I may need to put The Irishman on a cash grocery diet if the poker chips don’t work.  What is it with men and grocery stores?  Is it just mine?  OK, then, carry on.

Top Eighth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

duck-bill#8.  You may be paying for stuff you don’t know about – Dee at Color Me Frugal found out the hard way when she was suddenly billed for something that apparently was in the contract but they weren’t aware.

Why It’s Important to Check in With Your Billers Regularly

At least through some whining negotiating she was able to cut her losses in half, but if she hadn’t checked her bill closely she would have been none the wiser for that time and going forward.  BTW, the duck named Bill totally agrees with me.

Top Seventh Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Bread#7.  You’re paying for a lot more than the food you order when you eat out according to Karen at Suburban Finance.

Hidden Costs in Restaurants

She reminds us of the extra costs of sides and add-ons as well as the variability across geographies.  What get’s me the most is how these options are always presented in such a way as to make you think they are doing you a big favour, bringing you bread or asking if you like something extra, with no hint that there’s extra cost involved and they’re just trying to up-sell and increase they’re profit margin.  Good marketing for them… bad for you and your pocketbook!  Besides who wants to pay extra for bread that looks like worms?

Top Sixth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

gas-prices#6.  You may be missing out on better opportunities if you don’t do the math and calculate your costs that support your income earning potential or even just your costs to support your family.  How many times have you driven across town to hit a sale but basically blew most of your savings on gas?  Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff discusses how this has impacted her in:

Opportunity Costs at Work

Now with the price of gas these days is through the roof.  I use GasBuddy.com to find the best prices in my vicinity.  $139.8/litre last reported 50 minutes ago at my favourite nearby station (which in US gas terms is $4.915/gal  using these handy dandy Bank of Canada daily currency converter and gas converter tools!)

Top Fifth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Germany#5. What if a great opportunity came along, something you always wanted to do but then you couldn’t because you didn’t have the financial means necessary to support the endeavor?  So like, let’s just say that Erin of Broke Millennial had this chance (she doesn’t) to move to Germany (she’s not) but didn’t have the funds to pay her way over until she could get reimbursed by her new employer?  Ya, that would suck ay?  Well Erin explores all things about why she should move to Germany in … drum roll…

Perhaps I Should Move to Germany?

Basically she proves that she would never be caught with her pants on the ground and not ready to move to Germany or anywhere if the right opportunity came up because she rocks managing her money!!   Besides, who wouldn’t want to move to Germany on a moment’s notice with cool looking architecture like this?

flickr-John-Morgan-manage-your-financesTop Fourth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

#4.  If you manage your finances then you have extra money to buy important stuff like dividend paying stocks which is a nice form of passive income.  I don’t have any extra money these days so I just drool when I read posts like this from Dividend Mantra.

Recent Buy

So I just follow a long like I’m using play monopoly money so I can learn the ropes and look forward to the day when I have some extra cash and I can write a post call Recent Buy except I will call it Decent Recent Buy, because my name is Debt Debs and I have to get at least one D and some rhyme in there because that’s how I roll.

Top Third Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Dollar-Store-shopping#3.  Wow, I can’t believe I’m already at #3.  For this one I need to say categorically you need to manage your finances so that you can shop at the dollar store.  Huh?  Yes, you need to shop at the dollar store for two reasons.  #1 you can get some okay things at the dollar store and there is no reason to go buy some overpriced thing when the dollar store version is just fine.  Girl Meets Debt knows about some of these things and also some that you should not buy at the dollar store.

5 Things to Buy (and Avoid) at the Dollar Store

I’d like to add pens to her list of things to buy at the dollar store.  But what’s the #2 reason you need to shop at the dollar store?  You need to remember what it was like when you shopped at the dollar store to get your shopping fix because you didn’t have any money and spending just $10 on some dish cloths, some plastic hangers, a couple of cards and a candle was enough to make you realize, you didn’t need to shop anymore to feel good.  Stay humble…. and never be a collector of needless stuff again.

Top Second Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

standard-poodle#2.  If something is really important to you and you need money for it, it’s not fun when you don’t have the money for it.  Our beloved standard poodle passed away January 2013, and though I still grieve for him, I think I will soon be ready to get another Standard Poodle, this time from a rescue organization like SPIN or SPRO.  It just sucks that we don’t have the money in our budget because pets can be expensive.  But I bawled my eyes out yesterday when I read about LBee & the Money Tree having a really rough week losing her beloved dog, Murray.

For Murray

Her love for that pooch was so apparent in her words and the wonderful pictures she shared.  It reminded me how much we loved and miss Fergus, and know that one day, we will share our love again with a standard poodle rescue.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.  And if I had been a better money manager, it would be tomorrow that I would get another dog.

The #1 Top Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

happy-piggybank-manage-your-finances#1.  And the #1 reason why you need to manage your finances is an oldie but goodie found on Rockstar Finance from Will at First Quarter Finance.  You may find out that you actually enjoy saving money!

How to Enjoy Saving Money!

Now there’s a novel concept, and one, I myself, can vouch for!  Go figure…

Images courtesy of morguefile except where noted
Monopoly Money / John Morgan / flickr
Dollarama / Michael_Swan / flickr

Happy #FinSavSat folks!  Enjoy your weekend!

Debt Discipline
My-Dad


58 Comments

Father’s Frugal Finances

The best example I have had for being frugal has come from my father. In fact, we often thought he was downright miserly.  Somehow, it might have backfired, given our current financial situation. There may have been some moments that I thought he was just too cheap for his own good. Maybe this stuck with me and I swung the pendulum too far the other way. In retrospect, he really has set a good example and one which I wish I had heeded a long time ago.

powdered-milk-frugalChildhood Currency

As a child I remember asking him how much money he made. Both of my parents scoffed and said “Oh, we don’t talk about that.” They realized I would blab to all my friends, even if I didn’t realize if it was a good wage or not, it certainly would seem enormous to me. They didn’t get the blabbing part wrong. Look at me now – a blogger!

But my impression was that we were a little poorer than my friend’s families. Not by a lot, and probably not at all, but hearing frugal talk in the household, drinking powdered milk (yucch, I hated that stuff) are things that may have lead me to this conclusion. My mother didn’t work until my youngest sister turned five, and then she took a part-time job in a retail store.  In general, I grew up feeling like money was not to be wasted, in case you really needed it someday.

Teenage Turns

Imagine my surprise when my parents started taking some winter vacations on their own when we got a little older but were left in the care of our aunt. A cruise, a trip to Florida…. well, well, things must be looking up in the Finance department.  It was probably more like miserly intervention.  My Mum had probably had enough and started threatening and there was probably a few “I deserves” on her part thrown in there too!

Florida-Disney-WorldNext thing I know, they bought a house in Florida. Wow! I didn’t see that coming. Of course it was mortgaged, and it meant seven of us loaded into a sedan for a three day 27 hour drive door to door. Disney World, Busch Gardens, the beach, Tarpon Springs… here we come!   We did this for three Christmases in a row.   We had to save up our own money for any extra spending. Truth be told, I think there was a bit of Jonesying there on the part of my mother when they bought the house, and she convinced him it was an investment. I was even allowed to have a friend fly down to Florida and meet us there.  I wasn’t complaining.

Sixteen years of age and a new driver, I managed to convince my Dad to let me have his car to go to the drive-in with my boyfriend. Looking back, he was pretty accommodating, though I didn’t see it as a big deal at the time. What I did see as a big deal was the scratch I put down the side when I parked too close to the speaker and scraped it a good long streak. I was so terrified of his reaction that I did not sleep a wink all night. I heard him up getting the tea and his breakfast and figured I need to get this over with. I told him what happened and immediately started bawling. He didn’t say a word but went over to look at the car in the driveway from the living room window. Eventually he spoke, asked questions, maybe appeared a little annoyed, but nothing like I expected, and nothing that I can recall now almost 40 years later. I don’t recall if he asked me to pay for repair or if he even had it repaired. All I remember now is my fear and his reaction being not nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be. Even though he was frugal, it appears money wasn’t always front and foremost in his thoughts.

frugal-studentTenant, Tuition and Transportation

I went to university but paid my way, tuition and accommodations.  There was never any discussion of money set aside for me for this. For the most part, I managed quite well, being in a Coop program, so I had good employment work terms between every semester of school.

We had an older used second family vehicle, even though my Mum didn’t drive. It was there for when I was at home for my work terms so I could drive to my job. I was allowed to take it the six hour drive to university for the first weekend of every term so I could take all my stuff, but I had to bring it back the very next weekend and return by bus to university. I often wondered why they didn’t let me keep the car with me at school all term, because it just sat in the driveway at home. It was sort of an unspoken frugality that was practiced.

I could walk to university from the various places I rented during my school terms which were at maximum about 2 miles. I didn’t need a car. I only needed a car to get my stuff down there and back each term (my Coop placements were all in my hometown).  Having a car at university was a want. He probably knew I would get lazy, start driving to school, drive all my friends, spend lots of money on gas, possibly get into an accident… . No, needs they could support. Wants would not be supported.

Even though I would have to buy a one-way bus ticket to get back to school after delivering the car back home (bus tickets weren’t that cheap either), and even though we got rear-ended once on the way home (not our fault, but my friend was driving), this was the standard that was expected all through-out my university years. I was envious of some friends who had cars. I would struggle home with my groceries stuffed in my knapsack and two arms breaking as I tried to carry everything the half a mile to my accommodations.   I think I tried renegotiating the terms once or twice, but for the most part it was accepted by me as a no go, for what-ever reasons, and even if it did not make sense to me.  Laying down the ground work for no lifestyle inflation had begun.

ToyotaGraduation Gifts

My last semester, I already had a full time job lined up for after graduation. I think the second vehicle might have died by this point, but that wasn’t needed as a way to get home that term. I was given a relocation allowance by my employer, whereby I could rent a van to bring all my stuff home, including some furniture that I had managed to leave there for the full four years.

I did need a vehicle though to get to work, and decided I wanted to buy my own brand new car. I planned to live at home for my first year to save up to buy nicer furniture and prepare to move out on my own.   I had my eyes on a Toyota Tercel and went shopping for it with my Dad earlier in the semester, so he could help me to negotiate. They asked for a $100 deposit, which my Dad put down on his credit card. (I don’t think I even had a credit card then). I fully expected to pay it back, once I started working full-time, because money always ran a little short by the time I got to the end of each school term.

Imagine my surprise when I picked up my new car in May, and Dad said I did not need to pay him back the $100. It was a graduation present. A very generous graduation present, I felt. $100 from my Dad felt like $10,000 at the time.  Maybe it was a little bit of foreshadowing to how he is today.

downpayment-for-homeHome Homage

Fast forward, and after a couple of years of apartment rental, it’s time to purchase a home.  Dad lent me some additional money for my down payment.   He set an interest rate that was lower than what I would pay but better than he could get in short term interest bearing investments, so it was a win-win!  I actually didn’t even pay this money back until I was married a few years.  He wasn’t asking for it but I didn’t want to be indebted to him any longer, especially now that I was a mother and with many family responsibilities. Since he was money savvy, he saw an opportunity to help his daughter out and himself, all at the same time.

frugal-sandwichBread and Butter

He continued to be quite thrifty, was good at repairs etc. so it wasn’t usual for him to bring in any experts. He cheaped out on house painting, leaving it to my Mum to do.  When she said eventually, that was it, she was doing no more painting, she was too old for this, he had to address.  He asked Huey, Duey and Louie aka my husband and my two BILS to help him paint the living and dining room and hallway one weekend, instead of hiring painters.  My Mum didn’t want to be around so asked me to take her out for the day which I obliged.  So by mid afternoon, the guys were getting hungry.  “Do you have anything to eat, Grandad?”  Oh, sure, he said and made them bread and butter sandwiches*.  They still laugh about Grandad’s cooking prowess to this day.  Not only was he frugal on getting the painting done, but he didn’t even have to score for a pizza!

man-on-phoneBrains or Braun

Years later, Dad took ill suddenly and was diagnosed with a brain tumor on his pituitary gland.  After surgery, he needed hormone replacement therapy, and getting exactly the right dosage is always a matter of trial and error.

At one point, he had so much estrogen in him he was calling us to talk on the phone regularly, crying in front of us and shopping up a storm!  I kid you not!  He went shopping for a sports car with my husband once (didn’t buy one, thankfully)!  He bought new windows for their house and my mother was in her glory!  We said to him “Who are you and what have you done with our father?”

Since he was under close supervision in those early days, the doctors immediately spotted the overdose and cut it back, a little too far, and he went back to his miserly self but worse!  Let me tell ya, those hormones play a big part in this I have witnessed!

Single but Satisfied

Life changes in an instant, and he lost my Mum unexpectedly 9 years ago.  7 years her senior, we never expected things to turn out this way.

He is 89 years old, lives in a rented apartment, still drives and comes to dinner most Saturday nights, bringing a bottle of wine for every meal.  He’s still frugal, but he’s no longer cheap and has become quite  generous.  He complains about how much his stock broker is making off him, but still has quite a bit invested in the market even at his age.

He knows we have cut back and are living frugally, which pleases him, I think.  But I could never tell him the extent of our debt, because I don’t want to disappoint him.

I must say that, as much as I miss my Mum (she was always the life of the party), it has been good to get to know my Dad even better in her absence.  I often think about their situation, since The Irishman and I have the exact same age difference.

In retrospect, I think my Dad has the right amount of frugality and I think that at the end of the day, I do too!

My-DadHAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all you Dads out there!

Just remember ~

Time is money, but money also takes time!

 

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
milk – imagerymajestic
Disney – David Castillo Dominici
student walking – Ambro
Toyota – tiverylucky
helping hand home – jannoon028
bread and butter – rakratchada torsap
man on phone – stockimages
My Dad – Simon Howden

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